14 NBA Players With the Most Impressive Hand Sizes

Updated on March 11, 2018

Having big hands can be a nice advantage in basketball. It gives you the ability to easily palm the ball which, though not critical, can be very helpful. This can affect passing, shooting and ball handling. Basketball, ultimately, is about ball control and so just imagine how much easier basketball will be if the ball feels like a softball in your hands. You will have so much control.

Some NBA greats like Michael Jordan and Julius Erving benefited from having huge hands. Their hands were a big plus to how they played the game. Obviously, it wasn’t the only reason these players were great but was a huge advantage and probably why they were able to finish so well at the rim. Kobe Bryant recognises this and when asked what he wished he could change about his game, his answer was his hands. He revealed he wished he had massive hands like Michael Jordan. Also, when Phil Jackson was asked who would win in a game of one-on-one between Jordan and Bryant, the ‘Zen Master’ went with MJ. His main reason for picking MJ was simply because of the hand size advantage he enjoys over Kobe.

The NBA has measured the length and span of rookie prospect hands since the 2010 combine. Hand size measurement at the Draft Combine consists of two parts. They are hand length and hand span. Hand length is measured from the base of palm to the tip of the middle finger. Very few NBA players have hand lengths of 10 inches or longer. Examples are Robert Upshaw, Andrew Nicholson and Dexter Pittman. The average hand length for a male is around 7.4 inches. Hand span or spread is measured from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the pinky finger with your hand outstretched. It’s extremely rare for even an NBA player to have a hand span of 12 inches or wider. Gregory Smith and Giannis Antetokounmpo are few of the NBA players who can boast of such measurements. The average male’s hand span is about 8.5 inches.

Unfortunately, it is very common for people to confuse hand length with hand span and vice versa. An individual’s hand span is almost always greater than his hand length. However, there are rare cases of individuals whose hand spans are actually less than their hand lengths. Joseph Young of the Indiana Pacers strangely has a hand span of 7 inches which is less than his hand length of 8.25 inches. NBA players like Anthony Davis, TJ McConnell, Markieff Morris, Harrison Barnes and Alec Burks also have hand spans that are less than hand lengths. It’s also not uncommon for some players to have the same hand spans as their hand lengths. NBA players like JaMychal Green, Al Farouq Aminu, Sean Kilpatrick and Andre Drummond fall under this category. The difference between the hand span and hand length of an individual rarely exceeds 2 inches. Hassan Whiteside, Noah Vonleh and Phil Pressey are few of the NBA players whose hand spans exceed their hand lengths by at least 2 inches.

Being tall naturally comes with huge hands. It’s not surprising that the largest hand on a living person belongs to the tallest living man, Sultan Kösen. At 8’3, Sultan’s hand length and hand span measure a staggering 11.22 inches and 12 inches respectively. However, the largest hands ever measured belonged to Robert Wadlow, the tallest man ever, who stood at 8’11. His hand length measured a whopping 12.75 inches. Unfortunately, there is no reliable data on his hand span though one can safely assume that it should at least be 13.5 inches.

Sultan Kösen, the tallest living person, has officially the largest hands in the world. His hand length and hand span measure 11.22 inches and 12 inches respectively
Sultan Kösen, the tallest living person, has officially the largest hands in the world. His hand length and hand span measure 11.22 inches and 12 inches respectively | Source

Kösen and Wadlow may have the largest hand sizes but are their hand sizes really impressive for their height? Let’s take a look at the hand size of one of the most dominant basketball players ever, Wilt Chamberlain. Chamberlain’s hand length is 9.5 inches and his hand span is 11.5 inches. His hand length is around 28.4% longer than the average hand length and hand span about 35.3% wider than the average hand span. However, considering the fact that the average U.S. man stands at 5’10 and Wilt stood at 7’1, this doesn’t present the whole picture. The average hand length and span of a 7’1 man are roughly 9.2 inches and 10 inches respectively. If we compare Wilt’s hands to the average for his height, we realise that his hand length is only 3.3% longer and hand span 15% wider.

Being tall does not come with huge hands 100 percent of the time as one will expect. At 6’2, Donald Trump has a hand length of 7.25 inches. The average hand length of a 6’2 person is roughly around 8.4 inches and hence Trump’s hand length is really small indeed if you take his height into consideration. American professional basketball player, Isaiah Austin, has both a hand length and hand span of 8.75 inches. Austin stands at 7’1 just like Wilt Chamberlain and so his hands are also really small for his height.

There also cases of individuals with huge hands relative to their height. Jimi Hendrix was rumoured to have a hand length of 10.75 inches despite standing at just 5'10. It was believed that Hendrix's unusually large hands contributed to his status as one of the greatest guitarists ever. The hand size of NBA star Isaiah Thomas is only 8.3 inches in length and 9 inches in span. Thomas is an inch below the average U.S. male height and the fact that his hand length is around 12.2% longer and span 5.9% wider than the average male is pretty impressive. The article takes a look at some NBA players both past and present with the most impressive hand sizes. Both the hand length and hand span of the players are considered. Reasonable estimates will also be made on the hand sizes of players with impressive hand sizes but have not been officially measured. It's usually obvious who the players with the biggest hands are though. They're the ones who can wave the ball around like a grapefruit and don't need the off hand to secure the ball.

1. Rajon Rondo

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Rajon Rondo’s hand length measures 9.5 inches and his hand span measures 10 inches. At just 6’1, his hand length is roughly around that of a 7’5” person. The average hand length of a 6’1 man is around 8.3 inches. This means Rondo’s hand length is around 14% longer than the average hand length for his height. His hand span is also equivalent to the average of a 7’1 man. With the average hand span for someone his height being around 9.0 inches, Rajon’s hand span is around 11% wider than the average. Interestingly, he has the same hand span as 6’11 Demarcus Cousins and a longer hand length than Demarcus.

Sport Science - Rajon Rondo

2. Connie Hawkins

Connie Hawkins could palm the ball with ease and finish in any way he liked at the rim. This was due to his uncommonly large hands which were 10.5” in length and 11” in span. Hawkins’s hand length and hand span are close to the average for a man standing close to 8’0. Amazingly, he stood at 6’8. His hand length is around 18% longer and hand span around 13% wider than the average for his height. Lebron James stands at the same height as Connie Hawkins but can only boast of a hand length and a hand span of 9 inches and 9.25 inches respectively.

3. Kawhi Leonard

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It was said that when Kawhi Leonard was born, his mum immediately noticed that his hands were disproportionate to the rest of his body. Kawhi had enormous hands even as a baby. His mum knew there and then nobody could switch babies on her.

As a freshman at Canyon Springs High, Leonard was a wide receiver on the football team. His school didn’t have receiver gloves that fit him in the equipment room and had to send him to a local sporting goods store to get some. Unfortunately, the biggest size in the store didn’t fit him as well and they finally had to special order some. At 6’7, Kawhi Leonard possesses a hand length of 9.75 inches and a hand span of 11.25 inches.

The average hand length and span of a 6’7 person are around 8.8 inches and 9.5 inches respectively. Kawhi's hand length is 10.8% longer and his hand span about 18.42% wider than the average for his height. Terrence Ross and Draymond Green stand at the same height as him but have hand sizes nowhere near Leonard.

Sport Science: Kawhi Leonard

4. John Stockton

It’s very difficult to get reliable data on the hand size measurements of John Stockton but there is no doubt that he had huge hands for his height. It was one of the reasons he could do those one-handed passes off the dribble. It was said that Stockton had the same hand size as his 6’8 teammate Marc Iavaroni. It is therefore safe to predict his hand length to be around 9 inches and his hand span to be around 10 inches. This is truly remarkable considering he stands at only 6’1.

5. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan’s hand length and span are 9.75 inches and 11.375 inches respectively. Jordan stands at 6’6 but his hand length is around the average of a 7’9” man. MJ’s hand length is around 12.1% longer than the average hand length for his height which is about 8.7 inches. His hand span is also 21% wider than average for his height with the average being around 9.4 inches. Jordan’s hand span is around the average for a man who stands close to 8’0. Surprisingly, MJ has a longer hand length than Wilt Chamberlain though Wilt’s hand span is wider.

6. Elgin Baylor

The hand print of Michael Jordan (in red) and Elgin Baylor (in blue).
The hand print of Michael Jordan (in red) and Elgin Baylor (in blue).

Anyone can tell Elgin Baylor had huge hands from the way he handled the ball. Unfortunately, getting accurate measurements on his hand size has proved difficult. However, a comparison of the handprint of Michael Jordan and Baylor shows that they have roughly the same hand length. MJ's thumb appears to stick out further for some added spread giving him a slightly wider hand span than Baylor. It is therefore safe to say the hand length of Baylor was around 9.75 inches and his hand span was around 11 inches. This is really mind-blowing considering he stood at 6’5.

7. Noah Vonleh

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This 6’9 power forward is gifted with the physical tools required to make it big in the NBA. His hand size is at the extreme for his height. The average hand length of a 6’9 person is around 9.0 inches and average hand span for that height is around 9.7 inches. Vonleh's hand length is 8.3% longer and hand span about 21.13% wider than the average for his height. Noah recorded both the longest hand length and widest hand span in 2014 draft combine. Paul George’s hand length is 14.7% shorter and hand span 30.5% narrower than Vonleh’s despite standing at the same height.

8. Julius Erving

Julius Erving compares his hands with Noah Vonleh.
Julius Erving compares his hands with Noah Vonleh. | Source

Julius Erving’s hands have always been big for his size. It was said that Dr. J could palm a basketball off the dribble when he was in junior high school. Erving’s humongous mitts allowed him great control of the ball which enabled him to throw down almost any kind of dunk imaginable. The way he could swing his arms around with so much speed while palming the ball was unbelievable.

The hand size of Dr. J has been the subject of many debates. Erving’s hand size has been estimated to be as low as 9 inches in length and 11 inches in span to as high as 12 inches in length and 13 inches in span. Fortunately, Erving did us a favour by comparing his hands with Noah Vonleh whose hand size we know with certainty. Vonleh’s hand length appears to be about a quarter of an inch longer than Julius Erving's. However, there is very little difference in their span. Though Noah’s thumb is longer than Dr. J’s, it doesn’t stick out like the way MJ’s does. Dr. J’s hand length is probably somewhere around 9.5 inches. His hand span is also probably around 11.75 inches. Erving’s hand size is not far behind one of the largest hands ever measured at the draft combine. It’s even more impressive considering he stands shorter than Vonleh.

9. Wayne Embry

Wayne Embry compares hands with Vonleh
Wayne Embry compares hands with Vonleh | Source

This 6’8 gentle giant has a large set of mitts for his height. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find consistent data about his hand size. Embry’s hand span is believed to be 12 inches. His hand length measurement is unknown. Like Dr. J, Wayne Embry volunteered to compare his hand with Noah Vonleh and so we can use this to predict what his true hand measurements are. Vonleh’s hands are at least 0.5 inches longer than Embry’s in length. Their spans are about the same. The hand length of Embry should therefore be about 9.25 inches and his span around 11.75 inches. Lebron James is the same height as Wayne Embry and his hands are nowhere near his.

Video of Embry Comparing his Hands With Vonleh

10. Jahlil Okafor

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Jahlil Okafor is one of the few people in the world who can hold 13 tennis balls in one hand. The average person can hold a maximum of six. He also stunned everyone when he held 3 apples in one hand for a draft photoshoot. Okafor’s hand span measures 11.25 inches and so it’s not surprising some of the remarkable things he can do. Unfortunately, there is no reliable data on his hand length but it is safe to assume it should be at least 9.5 inches. At 6’11, he has exceptionally big hands for his size. Nerlens Noel stands at the same height as Jahlil but has a hand span 12.5% narrower. Remarkably, Okafor has a wider hand span than 7’0 Steven Adams.

11. Boban Marjanovic

Boban Marjanovic compares hands with Ray McCallum
Boban Marjanovic compares hands with Ray McCallum | Source

Boban Marjanovic may hold the unofficial title for largest hands ever in the NBA and probably in the world. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had his hands officially measured. Some sites put his hand span at 14 inches which is highly unlikely. A pic of Boban shaking hands with Okafor (below) shows his hands are not significantly bigger than Okafor’s. It will be interesting to see him compare hands with some of the big boys like Vonleh and Giannis to gauge his true hand size.

Most of the people he has compared hands with though have had average to below average hand sizes. In 2016, he compared hands with his former teammate Ray McCallum whose hand size has been officially measured. We can thus use this to estimate his hand size. At 6’3, Ray McCallum has pretty small hands for his height. His hand length is only 8 inches and hand span 8.75 inches. From the pic above, it is pretty obvious Boban’s hand length is at most 3 inches longer than McCallum’s. Their hand spans also don’t differ by more than 3.5 inches. Boban’s hand length is therefore likely to be in the range of 10.75 to 11 inches and his hand span in the range of 12-12.25 inches. This is not far off from the measurements of the tallest living person who is a foot taller than him.

Boban shakes hands with Okafor.
Boban shakes hands with Okafor. | Source

12. Gregory Smith

Greg Smith has one of the largest hands ever measured at the draft combine. His hand length measures 9.8 inches and hand span 12 inches. Smith has the same hand span as 8’3 Sultan Kösen. This is truly astonishing if you consider the fact that he stands at 6’10. His hand length is also close to the average for a 7’9 man. Gregory’s hand span is around 21% wider and his hand length around 8.9% longer than the average for his height. Smith beats his 2011 draft mate, Nikola Vučević, in both hand span and length despite Nikola standing at almost 7’0.

13. Royce White

The average hand length of a 6’8 person is around 8.9 inches and the average hand span for that height is around 9.7 inches. Royce stands at this height but his hand length is 6.74% longer than the average. His hand span is about 18.56% wider than the average as well. Royce’s hand span of 11.5 inches was the widest at the 2012 draft combine. Amazingly, he has the same hand size both in span and length as 7’1 Wilt Chamberlain.

14. Giannis Antetokounmpo

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This insanely talented 6'11 forward who plays like a point guard is one of the few players in the NBA who can boast of a 12-inch hand span. His hand span is the same as the tallest living person in the world, Sultan Kosen, who stands at 8’3. This is really astonishing considering his height. His outrageous hand length of 9.85 inches is also something worthy of mention. The Greek Freak has a 20% wider hand span than 7’1 Rudy Gobert. Interestingly, his hand length is 12.6% longer and hand span 26.3% wider than Greg Monroe’s who is also 6’11.

Sport Science: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Other players with huge hands for their height but who were unable to make it on the list are Quincy Acy, Trevor Mbakwe, Shannon Brown, Walter Herrmann, Vince Carter, Larry Nance, Chris Webber, Tracy McGrady, James Worthy, Leon Powe, Elton Brand and Scottie Pippen.

Which one of these players do you think utilised his big hands the most?

See results

© 2018 C Amoabeng

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